The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation fully understands the important role pets play in our lives and how they become part of our extended families. Honoring them by establishing a fund in their memories is a way to give back to the community and be a constant reminder of their past companionship and yes, love.
Such is the case with the “Penny Nelson” Chautauqua County Humane Society Fund. “Penny” was a blonde cocker spaniel; the light of Jessie Nelson’s life. After her husband died in April 1997, her children encouraged her to get a four-legged companion to help fill a now, very empty house.
Remembering the blonde cocker spaniel, Penny, she had when her children were little, Mrs. Nelson asked the Humane Society to watch for another she might consider adopting. Eventually, her daughter, Jean, received a call to say there was a blonde cocker spaniel longing for a new home. They immediately left for the Humane Society and as soon as the puppy and Mrs. Nelson saw each other, it was very clear they fell in love at first sight.
Soon, the two became inseparable, often walking at Long Point State Park, adjacent to their home, watching the sunset over the lake, and working on jigsaw puzzles – Mrs. Nelson putting them together while Penny helpfully chewed any pieces that dropped to the floor. Penny loved everyone she met and they, in turn, returned her affections, sometimes by favoring her with head rubs, toys, or her very favorite treat, the last, bottom nibbles from their cream cones.
However, if someone truly wanted to get to Penny’s heart, a cucumber was the way to go. Growing in Mrs. Nelson’s garden, Penny would pluck her favorite delicacies from their vines, carrying them away. Once she found a quiet spot, undisturbed, she munched happily away. She did love her cucumbers!
After ten fulfilling years of companionship, Penny passed away in 2007. Though encouraged to get another pet, Mrs. Nelson just could not replace her beloved Penny; however, she wanted to help the Humane Society enable others to have pets as wonderful as hers. She talked about this to her daughter, Joanne, who suggested she might want to establish a Charitable Gift Annuity at the Community Foundation, which she did. This gift provided her with membership in Legacy Society, fixed payments for life, and ultimately an end-of-life endowment fund to benefit the Humane Society.
Jessie L. Nelson passed away peacefully this summer at the age of 98. Her annuity became what is now the “Penny Nelson” Chautauqua County Humane Society Fund, providing money for animal care, including medicine, vaccinations, spay or neuter, and other expenses, as they arise. Her generosity and foresight will allow the Humane Society to nurture many more animals while preparing them for adoption and a “forever” home.